If you’re facing DUI charges in Colorado, time is of the essence to save your driving privileges and save yourself from potentially severe criminal penalties.
The Denver criminal defense lawyers at Wolf Law have extensive experience representing individuals charged with DUI or DWAI. In this post, we offer an overview of Colorado’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) hearing process and how an attorney can help protect your rights.
Colorado DMV Hearings: Important Deadlines
The criminal case associated with a DUI charge is handled in county court, where a judge has the authority to impose penalties including fines, community service and jail time. The future of your driving privileges, however, is determined in a civil administrative proceeding administered by the DMV.
After you’re charged with DUI, you will receive a Notice of Revocation. It’s important to request a DMV hearing—also known as an Express Consent Hearing—within the limited timeframe provided.
The deadline depends in part on whether you consented to a breath and/or blood test, as well as your blood-alcohol content (BAC):
- If you submitted to a breath test and your BAC was .08 percent or higher (or .02 percent or higher for minors), or if you refused to provide a chemical test, the arresting officer will serve you with an Express Consent Affidavit and Notice of Revocation. You have only seven days from the date of the arrest to request a hearing.
- If you submitted to a blood test and the lab results show a BAC of .08 percent or higher (or .02 percent for minors), the DMV will mail you a Notice of Revocation. You typically have 10 calendar days from the postmark date to request a hearing. However, sometimes mail from the DMV can be delayed, therefore the letter will have a deadline date on it that you must request the hearing by.
If you fail to request a hearing by the deadline, you will automatically lose your driving privileges.
Requesting an Express Consent Hearing in Colorado
Your Express Consent Hearing request must be made in writing at a Colorado DMV location that offers driver’s license services. Our office recommends going to the main DMV branch at 1881 Pierce Street in Lakewood if possible.
If you submitted to a breath test and exceeded the legal BAC limit, or if you refused to consent to a chemical BAC test, your driver’s license should have been confiscated by the arresting law enforcement officer. If you took a blood test and exceeded the BAC threshold, you will be required to turn in your license after you receive the Notice of Revocation; you can surrender your license at the DMV when you request your Express Consent Hearing.
In both cases, you will be issued a document titled: Request for Administrative Hearing Pursuant to Notice of Revocation for Express Consent. This form serves as a temporary, 60-day license; do not drive without this notice as you await your hearing.
The DMV will then respond with a Notice of Hearing letter, which will indicate the date, time and location of your Express Consent Hearing.
Preparing for Your Express Consent Hearing
You are not required to have legal representation for your Express Consent Hearing. Because driver’s license matters are considered administrative, you also do not have the right to be provided an attorney if you cannot afford one.
However, you do have the right to hire a lawyer to represent you at the hearing. It’s important to know that if you decide to proceed without an attorney, neither your hearing officer nor other Hearings Division staff can offer you legal advice.
Prior to the hearing itself, you should prepare to discuss the circumstances of your arrest and gather any evidence supporting your case that you want the hearing officer to consider. You will not be given additional time to collect evidence at the hearing.
The Express Consent Hearing Process
You—or you and your attorney—will first meet with a hearing officer, who will review the facts of your case and the purpose of your hearing. You will have the opportunity at this stage to ask questions about the procedure, but again, the hearing officer cannot give you legal advice.
If you requested the presence of the officer who signed your Express Consent Affidavit, he or she will testify first, and you or your attorney may question the officer. You will then have the opportunity to present your own evidence, which may include your own testimony and eye-witness testimony.
The hearing officer will assess the relevant evidence with you, including any points already on your driving record. If the evidence shows that it was more likely than not that you committed the violation, the hearing officer will initiate the revocation of your driver’s license. The length of revocation depends on several factors, including but not limited to whether or not you consented to a chemical BAC test, your BAC content, and any previous driving infractions.
Colorado DUI Charges and How an Attorney Can Help
Individuals charged with DUI face both criminal penalties and the loss of driving privileges. Although you are not obligated to work with a lawyer for your Express Consent Hearing, most people aren’t prepared to make arguments before a hearing officer or cross-examine law enforcement.
The Denver DUI attorneys at Wolf Law can fight for you in both the courthouse and the DMV. We understand the life-changing severity of DUI and DWAI charges, and we work hard to minimize the potential penalties in your case.